Distance Travelled 2018 -2020
Our Social Workers, managers and broader workforce who have been with Wakefield Council throughout the improvement journey all say they can see the distance travelled and now see Wakefield as:
- a place to make a real difference
- impact of their work on children’s outcomes
- a great place to practice social work
- supportive reflective management
- stable leadership team which is visible
- a learning and reflective culture
Our Achievements for 2020
Though 2020 has been a real challenge for all of us, in Wakefield we have done more than just continuing to deliver our services. We always have a focus on improvement and positive change. Some of the development work we have done this year is set out below.
We completed the re-organisation of our Children in Care Teams, finalised our “Family Time” (contact) model and launched our new Families Achieving Change Team, supporting children on the “edge of care”.
Our most vulnerable children were kept visible and safe during the pandemic by working closely with our partners in other agencies and finding creative ways to ensure they were seen regularly. We avoided the significant drop in referrals during the pandemic as we used the partnership functions to maintain contact with children during the schools closure.
Our caseloads have continued at manageable levels during the year either remaining the same or reducing,
The outcome of audits and sampling of practice alongside Social Workers has begun to demonstrate significantly higher “good” outturns.
We launched our “in person” Neglect Training with plans to follow this up in the new year with our Domestic Abuse and Adolescent Risk programmes, also based on the practice model. This is being accompanied by bespoke coaching arrangement alongside longitudinal studies, helping to focus on the quality our plans and putting in place interventions that really make a difference.
The Children in Care Service have implemented “Team around the Placement” processes, contributing to our improved placement stability for children in Wakefield.
Our Children in Care are now finding permanent homes more quickly and more regularly including:
- more children adopted from Wakefield, than ever previously recorded.
- numbers of children permanently matched to foster carers are consistently growing
- more children have returned home safely to their parents, with our help.
Fostering Service have been successful in achieving a net increase in Wakefield Foster Carers for the second year running and are on track to launch our Mockingbird fostering model during the new year.
The Next Steps Service have implemented the new Care Leavers Operating Model and begun the work to implement the new Care Leaver Offer.
DfE Feedback 2020
In June, as a part of our programme of external scrutiny, we hosted and assurance visit for colleagues from the Department for Education. Some of the feedback they gave was:
- Partnership working is real strength in Wakefield
- Effective partnerships enabled us to effectively respond during Covid-19
- Service Managers, Team Managers and Social Workers remarked on significant change in culture and strong leadership team
- A culture of learning had been successfully embedded, supported by the CYPS directorate’s Learning Academy
OFSTED Focused Visit
During November we had a visit from OFSTED, with a letter which was published on the website in December. Some of the things the inspectorate noted were:
Areas of Strength:
- progress made by senior leaders in addressing serious and widespread failures means firm foundations were in place to respond robustly to Covid 19 pandemic.
- Improvements in the impact and effectiveness of partnership working starting to make a real difference
- additional investment in staffing and resources has stabilised workforce and improved the quality of social work practice
- children only come into care when it’s right for them to do so
- Pre-birth assessment to appropriate decisions to remove children at birth leading.
- Senior leaders have a clear line of sight on front line practice.
- Senior leaders have not been distracted by Covid 19 and not taking their collective foot off the pedal of continuous improvement.
- progress made in driving down caseloads and achieving greater workforce stability all staff including newly qualified social workers feel well supported
Areas of improvement:
- We need to continue to work on aspects of practice that will help to reduce re-referrals,
- Whilst some good and outstanding plans were seen, we need to continue to work on achieving this standard more consistently;
- We need to continue to work on embedding our approach to adolescent neglect;
- We need to continue with our work to implement the new “offer” for Wakefield care leavers.
Social Work Health Check June 2020
We are keen to understand the experience of our Social Workers in Wakefield and one of the ways we do that is to carry out an annual Social Work Health Check. During our most recent Health Check, our Social Workers told us:
- 80% of respondents who have been in their role for more than 12 months found the job rewarding;
- 86% would recommend Wakefield to other social workers.
This year has seen a significant reduction in Social Work vacancies across the whole service with the successful recruitment of over 60 permanent Social Workers, at all levels resulting in.
- Permanent Heads of Service.
- Permanent Service Managers.
- Permanent Team Managers
Though we do still have vacancies, we are recruiting to those quickly but would love to hear from qualified Social Workers who are interested in contributing to the developing culture in Wakefield. We still have posts available for:
Expression of Interest:
In Wakefield, we know that our staff are what makes the difference to children and families and we are committed to growing our own permanent workforce. Our Social Workers do not just survive but together we are thriving in social work practice and making a real difference. If you are interested in joining us on our journey, we are always interested in hearing from exceptional candidates like yourselves. If you would like an informal chat please contact Sean Segal – Head of Service, Safeguarding, Quality and Learning and PSW on 07880010548 or email your interest to firstname.lastname@example.org.